Free will and hell


So after we die, if someone repents before God, but understands he deserves hell, why is that person still going to hell? Don’t we still have free will after death? If God is loving, then why not give them one more chance to repent before Him and just send them to purgatory or whatever but save that person? Because otherwise, we wouldn’t have free will after we die, we’d be bound by God’s judgement so we wouldn’t have any control.


Could you please rephrase that? I don’t understand what you’re saying.

God is loving and just. If just one more chance was needed in order that person to repent and turn to Him, that person would receive five. We get ample opportunity to do so while we’re alive, enough that when we are dead, one more would have no impact.


Who is to say anyone who has rejected God in this life accepts Him in the next?


The problem with sin is that it will attach itself to you while you say “I can stop when I want” but you never want to stop. Hell is the result of you not wanting to stop whatever you have been attached to that is not God.

So, we do have free will after but by the time we are dead are wills have been made up and we don’t look back. Think of your will as a Jello on earth, but when you die it hardens like a rock into whatever shape we have formed our will.


The Church would say that the particular judgment happens immediately following death. So, there’s no opportunity to repent, per se.

I think that Aquinas would point out that, since that person would be a soul without a body, they don’t have the ‘equipment’ to think in the same way as when they were alive (and had a body, and more importantly, a brain). So, there would be no ability to think and repent.

I would say that we do, but that we won’t have the ability to exercise it until the end of time, when we receive glorified bodies.

In addition, though, we would say that, for those in the presence of God, it’s impossible for them to sin. So, I’m not sure how we would recognize the operation of the free will, per se.

And if they fail to accept that “one more chance”? Give another? Save them despite it?

Some might say, “if God is loving, then He’ll give us what we’ve chosen and not force us to accept something we’ve rejected.”


It wouldn’t happen.
Our souls become frozen, or stuck in the state we are at death.


The teaching on the Particular Judgment.


1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ. 592 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul–a destiny which can be different for some and for others. 593

592 Cf. 2 Tim 1:9-10.
593 Cf. Lk 16:22; 23:43; Mt 16:26; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23; Heb 9:27; 12:23.

1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification 594 or immediately, 595 – or immediate and everlasting damnation. 596

At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love. 597

594 Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274):DS 857-858; Council of Florence (1439):DS 1304- 1306; Council of Trent (1563):DS 1820.
595 Cf. Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1000-1001; John XXII, Ne super his (1334):DS 990.
596 Cf. Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1002.
597 St. John of the Cross, Dichos 64.


I’m still praying for God’s mercy for my son who died four years and eight months ago. He was not a practicing Catholic, and neither was I. He was in the hospital and we were told he was going to die. He wanted to see a priest so I went to the nurses station to have them find a priest and have him come to my son’s room. I went back to the nurse’s station later to see about the priest and they said they couldn’t find one. I don’t believe they really tried. Didn’t act like they really cared. So I went back to tell my son and asked if he would be willing to see a priest in the morning. That I would I find one. He said “Yes”. But he died overnight. God have m
ercy on his soul. I’ll never stop praying because I know he wanted to get right with God before he died.


If he wanted to get right with God, God will respond to that with mercy.


I’m sorry for your loss. I highly doubt he was damned as he wanted to get right. I think church teaching says if that’s the case someone is saved.


Catechism of the Catholic Church

1451 Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.” 50

1452When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible. 51


Good morning Marymmma: My sincere and deepest condolences for your loss and for your pain. The intent to be with God was there on both the part of your son and on the part of you. You don’t need a third party arbitrator. I think you should rest easy. Your son would want you to heal and that will help him rest easy too.

All the best to you!


Our wills are frozen at death. Who would deny God while facing Him?

In such a condition, Christ’s sacrifice is rendered meaningless.

Ultimately, we will be satisfied, for lack of a better term, at those in hell. They have chosen, reasoning poorly, to reject God and are now subject to Divine justice. In heaven, there is no grieving, no lamenting, no negativity, and we will much more fully know God there. As such, His mercy is easy to grasp and accept - and so it will be with His justice.


No one knows for sure what God does after someone dies. Indeed, we know one thing. He does as he wills.


He had the desire to see a priest! That is a wonderful grace!


I would add Jesus said we would be like angels. So if angels exercised free will once and then not anymore once in Heaven, we would be the same.


Just to be sure, are you aware that the correct advice would have been to ask him to make an act of perfect contrition? that would have sufficed. At any rate, keep praying.


I think you’re taking that quote out of context. Jesus was talking about the fact that there will be no marriage in heaven; that’s the way that we’ll “be like angels”. He’s not talking about free will or any other characteristic of angels. (After all, if you’re right, then that means that we won’t have glorified bodies in heaven – after all, angels don’t have them!)


Our loving God gives us chances all the way up to the very last second, but after death, there’s no more chances - we get the eternity we freely chose.


Yes but it is possibly an indication of lack of free will in Heaven. Like you, I can’t be sure but I suspect free will as we know it ends once you enter Heaven.

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